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May 7, 2021

A look into Olley’s favourite room

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Margaret Olley (1923-2011), Yellow room, evening 1993, 61 x 76cm, Oil on board, Private collection, courtesy Philip Bacon Galleries and The Margaret Olley Estate.
Margaret Olley (1923-2011), Yellow room, evening 1993, 61 x 76cm, Oil on board, Private collection, courtesy Philip Bacon Galleries and The Margaret Olley Estate.

A new exhibition at the Margaret Olley Art Centre (MOAC) at the Tweed River Art Gallery celebrates the iconic artist’s ‘sanctuary’ and favourite room in her Sydney home, the Yellow Room.

The exhibition The Yellow Room: Margaret Olley, which went on display this month and continues till 15 March next year, was officially launched with a cocktail function to high praise by leading Australian art figures.

The director of the Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art, Chris Saines, officially opened the new exhibition during the Tweed Regional Gallery Foundation function.

Mr Saines said MOAC’s re-creation of Olley’s home studio was unique, its size and attention to detail surpassing any studio re-creations he had seen before.

He spoke about the qualities of particular paintings in the exhibition, including Yellow Room 2011 which was the final painting Olley was working on the day before she passed away.

The Yellow Room: Margaret Olley celebrates the treasured room with a stunning selection of paintings from the early 1990s until 2011, the year of her death.

The Duxford Street house in Paddington was Margaret Olley’s home studio for more than 40 years and included a small, pale yellow room at the rear of the Victorian terrace that formed the front section of the property.

It was her sanctuary, a place to live and a place to paint. Its significance to Olley’s life and work led to the room’s re-creation in the Margaret Olley Art Centre at Tweed Regional Gallery.

MOAC Curator and collections manager Ingrid Hedgcock said ‘Olley’s depictions of the room are imbued with warmth, optimism and a sense of generosity that invite you into her home.

‘They illustrate her fascination for the changing qualities of light, as she painted the room at different times of day. They also display her characteristic choreography of everyday objects in and around the room,’ Ms Hedgcock said.

The paintings in the new exhibition are complemented by preparatory sketches and unfinished boards. The unfinished boards are at various stages of progress, so they reveal the layers of paint and colour that Olley worked through on the way to a finished work.

A gallery spokesperson said Olley’s process and approach to painting is also the inspiration for a new interactive digital painting program at MOAC that allows visitors to create their own artwork.

The interactive program allows the mixing of colours on a screen, simulating the process Olley undertook by mixing oil paint on board.

The exhibition has been compiled with support from Philip Bacon Galleries and generosity of private lenders.

During an address at Saturday’s function, Margaret Olley Estate co-executor Philip Bacon AM announced the estate would soon be donating 143 unfinished paintings by the late artist to Tweed Regional Gallery and MOAC.


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